As an entrepreneur your family and friends likely to describe you as a person who “does it all.”  Your juggling skills are only trumped by your motivation to make something for yourself and get ahead.

Still, regardless of your enthusiastic efforts, sluggish nights and burnt-out mornings may have you realizing that you really can’t do it all…at least on your own.  This might be the perfect time to bring in an intern.  Sure, it will take a small investment of time and effort upfront, but with the following moves in place, you can capitalize on some eager, helpful hands and pay them back in return.

 Determine The Possibilities

Most entrepreneurs resist taking on an intern for the simple reason that they do not know where to start.  Embark on your search with the help of your community’s local college.  Determine what college would be the most appropriate for your needs (i.e. hospitality, business, communication, etc.) and then contact the appropriate department head with your offer for his/her students.

Drafting a detailed description of the duties and requirements is key to streamlining your results to capable candidate. Increase interest by sharing the type of new knowledge interns will walk away with and by highlight the past successes of your business.

Like anything with business if you want the best results, you need to pitch a killer offer.  Make your offer so enticing that the last applicant standing feels excited, lucky and ready to make an inpact.

 Plan Ahead for Pay Back

Before you publicly announce your opportunity, you first have to have an important conversation with yourself as to how you will pay your intern back for their hard work.

Although ideal, most startups will not be able to afford putting another person on payroll, and that’s OK.  You don’t have to pay an intern with money but they should walk out with a solid recommendation letter and a list of their accomplishments; a portfolio of tangible work is even better.

Make a commitment to yourself that you will provide your intern with a well-rounded understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneur.  Understand that you will have to invest some time upfront to get them acclimated and properly trained.  Plan ahead for time and space to enrich their internship and agree to commit to a win-win relationship.

 More Projects, Less Tasks

Commit to providing your intern with an experience and avoid just handing over administrative tasks.  While administrative duties are a necessary part of any job, you should also try to find a space within your startup that your intern can have a stake in.

Work together to find a project or service that highlights their strengths and enables them to make a personal investment in the work.  Your best bet would be to have them start and finish a project all the way through for the most valued perspective gained.  Establish benchmarks for them to reach along the way and be around to provide feedback, constructive criticism and when due, praise.

 Foster a Learning Environment

Encourage questions from your intern and welcome inquisitive attitudes into your environment.  Embrace mistakes and inevitable missteps as valuable learning experiences and work together to find a fix.

Include your intern in on activities outside of the office.  For example, share with them places and outlets for inspiration and encourage them to find their own.  Set up fun, outside of work experiments for them to try on their own (i.e. networking) only to discuss the outcomes with you later.

Interns are amazing workers because they are new, enthusiastic and in most cases, refreshingly optimistic.  If you take the time to enrich their soil, their efforts can sprout in directions you never dreamed of.  In addition to getting some extra hands and a new set of ears to bounce ideas off of, you’ll also gain the overwhelming satisfaction of giving back.

How can your entrepreneurial efforts enrich an intern’s experience?

 About the author: Kelly Gregorio writes about topics that affect small businesses and entrepreneurs while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a provider of merchant cash advances. You can read her daily business blog here.

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  1. I think that it is very important that it is a learning experience and that you give your intern some level of responsibility. I love teaching and empowering people and it is always nice to have a new face around the office you can impart some wisdom to. I don’t get interns if I don’t have enough time to train or help them.

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